This week in our botany studies, we focused on the Lilly family, which gave us a great opportunity to practice what we had just learned about Monocots and Dicots. Remember some of the ways in which we can tell these different divisions?
Number of flower parts: The Lily has 3 sepals and 3 petals (although some say they have 6 petals) and a pistil with a 3-parted stigma and since Moncots tend to have parts that are divisible by three, this indicates that they are Monocots.
Leaf veins: In monocots, there are usually a number of major leaf veins which run parallel the length of the leaf and Lillies show this very clearly. You can see them in the leaf rubbings in the sketch at the top of this post.
Members of the Lilly family can be identified as flowers in parts of three and that the sepals and petals are identical. Most people would say that the Lilly has six petals but botanists make a distinction between the identical sepals and petals.
Starting from the outside of the flower, you can count towards the inside and see that there are three sepals, that look identical to the petals, but form and outside layer. Going in from there, you can see the three inside petals and then you can find the stamens and pistil inside. Lillies have six stamens, although some may be lacking anthers. The tip of the pistil is called the "stigma" and is noticeably in three parts. The family that you are most likely to confuse the Lilly with is the Iris family and the way you can tell them apart is that the Iris family has only three stamens.
|Quentin narrating what he has learned about pollination in June of 2008.|
Since the parts of the flower are so prominent in the Lilly family, it might be a good time to go over the process of pollination, if you haven't already. It can be a simple explanation about how a flower is pollinated by insects accidentally getting pollen on them from the stamen when the seek nectar or pollen (bees collect pollen on "pollen bags" on their legs) and some of the pollen rubs off on the pistil of the next flower they visit, pollinating the flower..
Go on a nature hike and see if you can find some Lillies. In addition to sketching a flower for the nature journal, you could also do a leaf rubbing as a way of going over the differences between the leaves of Monocots and Dicots. Collect some leaves from the Lilly you find, and collect some leaves from other plants which are not Monocots.
To make crayon rubbings, place the leaves under a sheet of thin paper. Regular copypaper works fine. Using the side, rub a crayon across the areas where the leaves are. This will leave an imprint of the vein patterns.